1 comment


Darkness covered the surface of the deep canyon of Telluride.  The day didn’t start with the sun, but with the formless taking shape from light that just appeared.  The mountains became apparent as the atmosphere brightened as if by a dimmer switch.

“Breathtaking “

“What did you just say?”

“You know, the way the light is shimmering and the colors are appearing- breathtaking.”

“ Oh, I heard you. I just can’t believe you are ruining the moment with cliches.”

“Emily, you’re breathtaking, “ he said as he put his arm around her shoulder.  Her head was pulled backwards as his arm tugged her bushy chestnut hair.

“ Yea,  hashtaggy.”  She removed the offending limb like it was a bad piece of meat.  She shook her head noticing the dirt under his nails.  “Let me guess, the mountains remind you of elephants.”

“ Well, not really, more like Grimace.”


“You know, Grimace, that purple creature from McDonald’s.”

“ McDonald’s?  That’s probably what you would like for a last meal.”

“ Actually , I could go for a sausage McMuffin right about now.  And you know what?I can really see the purple mountain magesty.”

“ Frank, please, stop.”

“ No, I mean, I get what the song is talking about.  The way the sun...”

“Ye- ah. I get it.”

“Well this is great. Don’t you think?  I really think our team has bonded on this retreat,” he said with a pump of his fist.

Two mourning doves took flight when a few guests opened sliding glass door of the lodge.  The redwood planks of the balcony whined and squeaked as they made their way out.  “Breathtaking,” said one of them.

“See, I told you,” said Frank once again attempting to put his arm around Emily.  Her look blocked his arm.  Instead he gave the newcomers a thumbs up.

“Hey, you know what I could use?”

“ A cold shower?”

“ Uh, no.  I had a watering already this morning.  Something to drink. Let’s go grab something.”  Frank held out his arm to lead Emily, but she maintained her position along the railing watching the canyon come to life.

“ No, I’m good.  I want to experience the sun rise.”

“Yea, me too.  I’ll just be a minute.”  Frank scurried inside.  

A few minutes latter, he returned and presented Emily with a drink.  “ Here you go, I thought you might be thirsty.”  He smiled with all his teeth and turned a quarter way to the side as he handed her the drink.

“What is this? A mimosa?  You know this is a business trip and we can’t be drinking - especially at 6 am”. Emily put her champagne glass on the wooden railing and put her hands on her hips.

“I thought I’d be nice.”  Frank closed his lips to frown, then regained his toothy smile.

“ What is that?” Emily recoiled but remained staring at him.

“What do you mean?”

“That green stuff.”

“Oh, you noticed too?  Yea,  my eyes are green.  Just like yours.”

“No, it looks like you have parsley between your teeth.  That is a big piece.” Emily gagged then looked down.

“ Oh no,” he said reaching for his mouth.  “ I thought I had more time.”

“Chill out.  It’s not that big a deal.”  Her tongue moved across the front of her teeth prompted by a bud of tenderness.

“Nope.  It’s too late.  Already sprouting.  All for nothing.  I guess I better leave,” he said losing his smile as his shoulders slumped.

“ You don’t have to leave.  Really, it’s no big deal,” she said patting him on the back.

“There they are,” he said as a pair of deer came up to the deck.

“What?” Emily turned to see what Frank was talking about, and sprung back into him letting out a shriek.

“Don’t worry.  They’re tame, “ he said reassuring her with a pat on the back.

“I don’t think so,” she hardened.  “They are wild animals.”  Emily took a step away from Frank, starling the deer.

“ Ah man, I’ll never catch them now,” he said with a muffled voice as the leaves in his mouth grew and a daffodil appeared.

“ Eew. Did you eat a flower?” asked Emily.

“You are not incorrect, but actually I’m floral.” Frank plucked the flower from his mouth so he could speak.  “Would you mind helping me round up those deer?”

“What?” She squinted her eyes and her pursed her mouth.

“No biggie, I can catch em.   Don’t want to lose that deposit.  Wonder if I can get a discount since we didn’t mate.”

“ Excuse me!”  Emily stood firm and tall.

“No, no, it’s not what you think.   You see, I’m plant based, and with the volcano blowing soon, I need protection,” he said waving the palms of his hands at her in defense.

“Okay, first.  Gross.  And too late?  Yea this was never going to happen,” she said waving a finger between them.

“Dang, I wish you’d have said that before I rented the deer.  How about the doves?  Nothing? “

“You are so weird.  I think I will take that drink.” She reached back to grab the glass keeping her eyes on Frank.

“Well, gotta be going.  I need to plant myself three feet deep before the volcano blows.”  He started to leave, then paused and turned around to ask, “ You think I can buy a shovel in the gift shop?”  The woman stared at him with her mouth ajar.  “Yea, right.  That’d be a waste.  I’ll just trade for the deer.  Good thinking,” he said raising a triumphant finger.

Emily watched Frank take out a pair of leashes, jump off the deck, and run into the woods. She could hear him beckoning the deer like they were pets. As she walked about the deck finishing her drink, she noticed a discarded box that read Live Birds. “Unbelievable,” she said rolling her eyes.

She stayed on the deck for thirty more minutes taking in the scenery and reflecting on her morning.  A few more co workers joined her, and they laughed as Emily recounted the last hour. The brightness of the sunrise faded again as the sky became overcast

“ Hey, we better go in. I think it’s starting to snow,” one of them announced. He pointed to the sky as flakes descended on the group. Joyful banter filled the air.

Emily stuck her tongue out to catch a flake.   Her eyes enlarged as she whispered “ That’s not snow, it’s ash.”

November 11, 2022 23:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Tommy Goround
19:17 Nov 16, 2022



Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.